The 4th trimester

Dear baby Beau

It is the end of our 4th trimester, and the start of a new year. Which means it is 2015 and you are now 3 months old – no longer a newborn. We survived! And you have taken over my whole world.

I feel a sense of bittersweetness for this phase ending. On the one hand, you are doing excellently; you are developing, and thriving, and you’re no longer so small and so (seemingly) fragile; your daddy and I are gaining our parenting confidence, and learning so much about ourselves along the way; and we have growing plans for the future with you. But, on the other hand, our time as ‘one’ is definitely over; you are now an infant in your own right. And BOY! What a head-strong little boy you are! Sometimes I watch you, when you are playing with daddy, or smiling and cooing at strangers, or in the arms of a doctor, or a swimming instructor, or a familiar family member… and I see you separate from me. My heart bursts with pride. And then I immediately want to take you back and keep you all to myself.

There are also times I need to get away. At least once a day I give you to your daddy, so I can leave the house for a walk, or a cup of tea in the garden, or time writing in my office, or a long soak in the bath… and at least once a week I need to go further than that – for a drive, with loud music, towards anything but you. I have to put my feet in the ocean, and feel the wind on my face, and the sun melting my aching bones. I need to wander mindlessly around shops, or sit watching people in cafes, or visit the beautician and have a body treatment that starkly reminds me you are no longer within. Other times I simply want to be somewhere where no one can see me. And even though I know these small breaks are good for me, and also for you and your daddy, I always feel so terribly guilty. As if I have abandoned you, even for a small time. And that I am a terrible mother for wanting time out. I’m just not yet at a point where I am comfortable being apart from you, baby, even when I need it. This is a biological thing, and it’s so powerful and incredible. You can push me to the brink of myself, I can feel every emotion at once, and then it’s like the balloon bursts and I can feel myself – literally feel myself – floating back to you. In surrender.

I guess I just didn’t expect this time to be so unbelievably exhausting. Loving you is the absolute easiest thing ever, baby. But being a parent is so incredibly hard! I hadn’t expected to feel so isolated, and yet at the same time so desperate to hide. I didn’t expect this strength I would feel, as well as such vulnerability. I didn’t expect the absurd irony of getting insomnia because of being so terribly sleep-deprived. Nor did I expect the pressure I would put on myself, the anxiety to be perfect, or the guilt I would feel for almost everything. I didn’t expect it all to mean so much. And I didn’t expect to love you in a way that frightens me.

What I did expect, simply, was that you would sleep! You don’t. Ok, that’s an exaggeration – of course you sleep. But you fight it. Every-single-time. Sometimes, for hours. On the positive side – you are incredibly alert, and vigorous, and far too interested in the world to sleep. But you do need to sleep, of course – so on the negative side it’s been overwhelmingly exhausting for all of us. And we’ve tried everything to help you.

We’ve given it time, patience, consistency, thrown MONEY at you, nodded politely to everyone’s advice (when almost always we’d already tried it), and remained as calm as one could possibly be after you’ve kicked and screamed at us for two hours. At 2am. Sometimes, I think you must surely have broken and/or are close to death with all of the crying – but just as I think you might spontaneously combust, you stop mid-scream and gaze at me with beautiful smiling eyes, before returning to your task at hand. You bamboozle me. I never knew I could sob and laugh hysterically at the same time. I never knew someone could be so happy and yet cry so much.

I admit there have been some ugly days – days on end, in fact, where I have had little more than two hours of broken sleep; days where I have resorted to driving around in circles, just so you would at least sleep in your car-seat; days where I’ve lay in bed and cried with you; and, I regret to say it, days where I have yelled at you to “just SHUT UP” – swallowing my guilt like a bitter taste as soon as I said those words (not that you would have heard me anyway… a space-shuttle launch could be happening in the back-garden and no one would hear it over your screaming). There have simply been times I’ve reached the end of all of my resources, and sat crying on the kitchen floor with your daddy coming home unsure of who to tend to first (me, incidentally, as your daddy in all his rationality knew that you were actually ok). I’ve then sat in the other room, listening to your daddy settle you to sleep in minutes, feeling like the worst mother in the world. A failure. Then before I know it you cry once more and I rush to you, and you stop as soon as you see me, smiling in such a way, with a look that sinks deeply into me, and I melt. ‘My Mumma,’ that smiles says. And I know then how good it all is; what a good job I am truly doing. And how much we love each other. So incredibly.

We play a lot, baby, and we have so much fun together. You love your play mat, and can roll over now and grab at toys. You like it when I lay down next to you, and we gaze at each other, having conversations with our eyes. You also love sitting in your bouncy chair, whilst I read to you, or play puppet shows, or just talk to you whilst you watch me make lunch. You love looking in the mirror, and watching my face as I pull silly expressions and talk in silly voices. You love it when I sing to you. You love being on your feet, either held by me, or in your jolly jumper. You seem eager to get going! I hold your hands when you are laying on your back, and you pull yourself to sitting and then push up on your feet until you’re standing. You make all the right movements for walking, and climb up my body. You are so strong, and coordinated, and clever! I love the way you look at me and break into a happy grin. I love watching you smile and interact with other people when I take you out, and you love these social situations, just quietly taking everyone in. You have so much love to give. You let me kiss you at least a thousand times every day. And whenever I do have you sleeping in my arms… I just stare at your beautiful face, and smell your delicious caramel breath, and wonder at how something so amazing could be mine.

The weekends come, and I rejoice in having your daddy around us. He plays with you whilst I get some extra sleep, then he makes me breakfast whilst I feed you. You love this special time with your daddy, and often you nap with him on the sofa. Once the day has begun he will often play with you some more, so I can do something for myself, and in the afternoons we either take you on an outing, or just for a walk around our neighbourhood. Before tea-time we put you in your jolly jumper and laugh for what feels like hours as you dance along to all the music we love. We all dance together, and sing, and you smile, and look at us as though we are crazy. And you never take your eyes off us. You have such rhythm, you are stunning. I love to watch your little feet on the ground, pushing and jumping, and pointing your toes with such precision. I’m sure you would stay dancing all day long. Then after our evening meal, we snuggle on the sofa with you, before your daily bath, and massage, and then I feed you before bed, smelling your warm coconut oiled skin. Our little macaroon. I always end the weekends refreshed, having had your daddy’s help for two days. But, at the same time, this lovely warmth seeps in, knowing that I get you to myself again tomorrow. Even though the days alone with you are exhausting – I adore them, baby. And I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the whole world. It is an honour to be your Mumma. A humbling job. And a cherished one.

2015-01-07 17.07.58 2015-01-07 17.08.04

And so, here we are, with unknown excitement ahead of us!

I’m prepared to be unprepared, expecting the unexpected, breathing, and enjoying every single delicious moment being yours.

Always.

Your Mumma. X

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